Writing Postage Prices on Postcards/Letters?

Interesting, thank you
I have run-in’s with the post office about using multiple stamps (some people dislike checking the correct postage, or are too lazy to do it).
I usually now just bung my cards in the post box, but as I use lot stamps from 80’s and 90’s I know the machines will most probably reject them, so write it as an assistance to the mail centre workers.

…but if they get through, then yes there is no point to it.

In the Netherlands you can only use stamps denominated in euro’s (from about 2001 I think) or NVI stamps (they became standard in 2010). Modern stamps have little marks on them, so the machine knows what kind of stamps they are, but they also recognise the image on the stamp. Last year the image of the recent December stamps were not uploaded into the software, so people received their Christmas cards with a request to pay for the postage. I think they also uploaded the images of older stamps, so the machine knows the worth of the stamps (and whether the stamp is a real stamp). I don’t know whether Royal Mail also uses machines, in that case older stamps don’t need to be a problem, RM only has to upload more stamp images (from 1971). When I’ve sent cards from the UK (with lots of older stamps), I’ve put them in the postbox, I’ve never brought them into the post office.

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Thank you for your detailed answer,

I wish a similar process was adopted in the UK, but the stamp designs uploaded into the system would run into the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) ,
RM use graphite strip in various sizes and patterns on the stamps to sort out the different domestic and international rates,

Lots of the older stamps don’t have this, the only way I know they are rejected is that I’ve had messages from postcrosser and others, how my stamps are cancelled using the notorious Marker Pen!

Hence on occasions I’ve asked the post office to use the counter date/handstamp (along when posting other mail and parcels).

The only time I’ve seen the postage amount handwritten by the sender on the postcard is when someone from Italy sent a me a card with multiple stamps, some of which were old stamps in lire, the old currency before the euro. So she added the conversion and the total amount. Yes, it is perfectly legal (stamps issued after a certain year, which I forget but something like 1968 or similar, can be used).

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You can also send post to the Special Handstamp Centre of Royal Mail. They have hand stamps for special occasions, but also “permanent” hand stamps. It will cost a bit extra, as you have to send the post first class to the Centre. I’ve tried it once, and it worked:


Haha, I am frequent collector or the RM Special Handstamp Postmarks, funny you should post the above photo, it was this picture on Flickr that inspired me to do research into the SHC’s because I was so disheartened by the amount of Pen Cancelled post

Is this your picture?
I linked into another thread about Pen Cancellations.

Yes, that is my picture.

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Thank You for your replies, very interesting to learn your experiences and how post is sorted in the Netherlands,

Even before this thread, thank you for introducing me to the SHC’s.

The UPU required a clear monetary value on all stamps used for international mail but the UPU rescinded the value indicator requirement around 1995 or 1996. I remember because the US Postal Service allowed nondenominated stamps (back then the old domestic A,B,C, etc. series and various rate change makeup stamps) to be used on international mail around that time. I can’t remember the exact date but I remember clearly the change in the rules. That is why the current Forever stamps are allowed on international mail and there are even international Forever stamps. Likewise the 1 and 2 class stamps of Great Britain, Italy’s zone stamps, etc. that do not show a monetary value.


Wow, that is cool. I wish we had that here. Is the only cost sending your items to them?

Here, for pictorial postmarks, you can send your mail to the post office that the stamp relates to, but for just regular hand-cancellations, you just go to any post office, and have to hope you get a staff member who understands what you want.

We’ve had NVI stamps in Belgium for a while now, but we are still allowed to use older stamps too. Not from before 1962, though. This means that we can have stamps in Belgian franks, in Euros or even a mix, as long as the total value adds up to what the cost is at the moment of sending. I have also considered writing the total value in Belgian franks and its equivalent in a corner, but then decided not to. I don’t use many stamps on a card though because of a lack of space. But I do put them in on envelope when my addressee asks for an envelope and collects stamps.
Funny anecdote: once somebody used the little stickers that are on kiwi-fruit as a stamp, and it still arrived :grin:


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I’ve always found it interesting, where countries that have changed currency, what happens.
An interesting read, I guess when you have done this as an assistance to the postal worker who may sort/check the post by hand?

Yes, that is the only cost.
The permanent postmarks such as the one @michiel071 has shown are avaliable at any time, they can be issued with any date, including Sundays and Public Holidays.
The pictorial postmarks, usually have timelimit (usually 28 days from the day the bulletin/postmark is avaliable from).
First Day issue Postmarks can only be used on the corresponding stamp, but sponsored Postmarks can be issued on any stamp.

They usually have roughly a 10 day turnaround for postmarking, but a present times I am looking at three to four weeks for postcards/letters to be forwarded or returned.

Edit: I should also add, any item submitted for postmarking should have sufficient postage to cover the return postage, therefore 1st class post is requested, if it is to an international destination, then a postage stamp(s) to that destination should be used, ie £1.70 stamp (or postage stamps equalling that value) for a postcard to Australia, etc

It was indeed my intention to assist the post office clerk, but then I decided against it for this simple reason: They’d probably check if I was right, so they have to do the maths anyway. And I don’t want the post clerk to think that I cannot trust him to do some simple additions.


Yes, now that you say that, it’s kind of undermining the post office clerk/mail centre worker.

I started writing it about a year ago, as we have had three price increases within the last 12 months, I thought it would be helpful.

But they have to check it anyway so I’ll have to get out of the habit of writing it, as said previously not much point writing it if 9/10 it won’t be looked at.

Thank you for your reply

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Hi Maddie, Here in the UK I quite often put the total postage in figures alongside the stamps , that not only helps the counter clerk but also reminds me if the counter clerk wants to check the postage required having weighed a small packet for example. I also often write across the bottom please do not pen cancel. I usually ask the counter clerk to handstamp my post and usually they give me the stamp to do it myself, that’s important to avoid a sock eye in the middle and get a clean cancellation lightly across corners. Make sure its canceled on a perfectly level surface ( don’t use the weighing scales !)and that afterwards the item is left flat to dry on the clerks counter without being chucked with wet ink immediately in the sack. Some Post offices don’t like hand cancelling at all others are really helpful, find a helpful one locally, I find many postmasters are actually really interested to see anything apart from bog standard Machins and often ask where I get them ??? Some are also keen to start stocking commemorative issues when they have not stocked them in the past. I use The Handstamp Centres for specific issues but of course it adds time and cost as you will have to pay to send the covers / postcards to the Centre in the first place and wait while they get to your item, sometimes its better to wait a few days after an issue before forwarding it to them to avoid the advance dealer rush. There is no reason why an NVI cannot be used in part payment for International Post.
The use of pen cancels has been a huge issue for years, I try and chat to my local post folks but it still happens at the sorting office, they were all issued with a special handstamp years ago that has bold zig zags for odd shaped stuff that would not go through machines or like much post in the UK never sees anything resembling a cancellation device. It is also rather odd that Royal mail attempt to bother to market collectable stamps which they then enjoy promptly destroying with pen cancels. Countless folks have taken this up with Royal Mail and nothing is ever done. Persevere with your stamps and Good luck, Regards, Derek


Pen cancellations are pretty bad, RM could use roll postmarks:

or hammer postmarks:

to make it more easy to cancel non-machinable items.

Hi Derek,

Thank you for your reply, you must have a very good relationship with your post office for them to let you cancel your own mail.

I like to think I have good relationship with my local post office (I usually rotate between three local PO’s that usually stock special RM stamps) and have built a rapport with the counter teams.

I wouldn’t specifically ask them to handstamp my postcards, as it a usual ‘no, please put them in the post box outside’
However if I purchase stamps, or post an item out such an eBay order or a work document, they are usually more willing to handstamp the postcards as an afterthought.
Couple of the ladies at one PO usually now offer me special stamps when I request to purchase stamps, even if it is not for postcrossing.

Interesting tip, might wait a few days before submitting for sponsored postmark. The turnaround times can vary.

Thank you for you detailed reply


The reason they give me the handstamp to do it myself is because it takes an age to explain how to line it up properly to get a really good cancellation across 2 corners and to do a few trial runs on a blank sheet to make sure there is actually any ink in the canceller in the first place and that they have the correct date on the canceller which sometimes they don’t if its near opening time! Of course everyone behind me in the queue especially at Christmas really loves me as I arrive with a pile of stuff for places they’ve never heard of plastered in stamps they’ve never seen before and requiring perfection in cancelling and an extremely mathmatetical brain !! D

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